Tales from the Echobox 015
Launching in 2021, Echobox has been forging a path for community radio by showcasing the diverse characters and concepts that surround them. In this feature, we will be looking into a few of the broadcasts that you can tune into so get locked in and don’t touch that dial.
Yorobi, your show with the same name provides a raucous, breaks-laden ending to one Echobox Saturday each month. Tell us about the show and how it came to be.
Somewhere during that god awful pandemic, I saw a post on Instagram about this new radio station in Amsterdam that was going to start up as a new radio station that would focus on local scenes.
I was excited to work in a studio again and liked the idea of meeting other radio makers and so I applied and found myself at the first briefing along with all the other first wave radio makers in Skatecafe in Noord.
You play a lot of jungle, drum & bass, tekno, and other hardcore-adjacent, high tempo sounds on your show. When did your love affair with this style and set of genres emerge, and how?
I think around 91, when the girl next door introduced me to her brother's music collection (I was 10).
He had all kinds of music from Bad Religion to Cypress Hill and we’d regularly borrow his cd’s which we dubbed over to cassettes or dance to in the living room - it was The Prodigy – Experience - that really stuck with me. He also had mix tapes and recordings from pirate radio I think. Which is remarkable growing up in a place like Groningen. But he was older and had travelled and partied in all these squats throughout NL and I think the UK. I had no idea it was called jungle. So I kept rediscovering it a few times over and then I started dj-ing in 99.
You recently put out a release with the very forward-thinking and exciting label Sneaker Social Club from the UK. What can you tell us about the release and how do you see your release fitting in with the rest of the label’s output?
I’m incredibly happy to see a work of mine on a label like Sneaker Social Club, a label that I have definite respect for when it comes to what they’ve been pushing over the years. They’ve featured artists like Paradox, Tim Reaper, Mantra, Etch, Appleblim, Seekersinternational and many others. To be included into that list alone is incredible. I’ve always worked within different genres and styles related to the breakbeat / bass music spectrum and I suppose that’s where my works fit in, though I am still quite astonished that it got picked up in the first place and at all the positive response it has garnered. The ep itself features tunes that are on the spectrum and fringes of all of that and I’ve really been wanting to do more projects that show this diversity of my creativity.
What has your relationship been with online radio over the years?
Having been able to do (online) radio for the past 24-26 years has really kept me afloat and connected me to a lot of people. At times it really feels like a tight-knit community, especially when you either organise parties as a station or do 72 hour broadcast marathons, or help keep the cash register safe from the police during a raid because the party was held at some illegal venue. It has been my outlet to play the music I like without the need of approval from anyone or a dance floor that you want to see dance as much as possible.
What do you have planned for 2023?
For this year I’ve got a few things planned. Firstly, finishing a few ep’s. I got a grant from Sena to fund part of a self released ep, which will come out later this year. I’m working on the last few things and hopefully have it all set up and ready to go soon! I have some other projects in the works, but that’s more in a concept / exploration stage, so I don’t feel comfortable sharing it yet, but it will involve travel, sounds and visuals.
Gun(fingers) to your head, what’s your favourite jungle record of all time?
That is such a tough question! But I guess one tune that I tend to reach for a lot still would Splash – Babylon (DJ Trace remix)
On instagram (and beyond?) you use the handle Yorobi wan Kenobi. If Obi-Wan Kenobi was to put together a rave, what kind of shenanigans could we expect?
Obi-Wan is a distant uncle, sadly we’ve not been in touch for a while. That’s what you get for having a Jedi-master for an uncle I suppose. But I’ve been to some of the parties he’s thrown at Oga’s Cantina (Batuu), those parties were infamous! He’d get the wickedest musicians from all over the galaxies and it would go on for days. But it would really only truly kick off when the Wookie dj team took over, I don’t even know how to describe the music they played other than sick galactic rebel bass. It would send the crowd into a frenzy of legs, arms, snouts, hair and tentacles. And it converted many a storm trooper to join the rebel alliance!
Once a month, stop&listen graces the closing slot of a Thursday evening broadcast. Kat and Grace, as the hosts behind the show, please tell us about how the show came to be and how it has developed.
KAT: I was living in Norway for a short period during the second lockdown, and therefore spending a lot of time in nature there. I walked up the mountain nearly every day and every time I noticed something different. As I started taking more time to stop and actually look/listen to what was around me, it made me think that we spend so much time rushing around and often dont notice little details of nature. When echobox started, I decided it would be fun to deep dive into one aspect of nature and merge my love of nature, literature and music to make different soundscapes each month. It’s been really fun to see what music comes to mind when you try and think like a snowdrop or a stratus cloud or tumbleweed, and look into field recordings and writings to create a layered show.
stop&listen uses a thematic focus to structure shows around a particular element of nature. What drove the inspiration for this focus and what is it about the format of radio that makes it a compelling way to explore the natural world?
KAT: I love the idea of focusing in on one specific element, and also deciding what “mood” that element would have. Grace and I align really well musically, and we both love to go down the rabbit hole, so it’s a fun way to focus that creative thinking and produce a different type of sound experience. As a lot of my DJ’ing is much more uptempo, I really enjoy this moment to slow down and think about music, sounds and the mood they create in a different way.
GRACE: When Kat introduced me to stop&listen, I was immediately drawn to the idea. Coming from a primarily visual arts background I have always loved researching and crafting little worlds. I saw radio as a freeing and intriguing medium to delve deeply into the sensory side of world building - I’m excited every month to dive into the little details to build a gentle (or dramatic) narrative.
Your show incorporates poetry and other different types of audio relating to the overarching nature theme. What do you feel these add to the ‘meditative soundscape’ you create in your show?
GRACE: I find it fascinating how layers of these different audio types can create something vivid and, multi-layered - and more than anything giving a personality to elements we explore. It’s kind of like audibly painting faces on the secret world around us.
KAT: We love a poem! I think it also gives us a chance to play a bit with our musical choices and decide which ambient track to read over, which track suits science, which can we read a story over etc. I like that we get to experiment with not only musical sounds, but field recordings and our own voices.
What is your ideal nature-based way to spend a day and evening?
KAT: Frolicking in a field on a hill somewhere to be honest.
GRACE: I love to swim and find that being in the water is a particularly meditative and rejuvenating experience for me.
stop&listen has had a few different manifestations: Grace you joined as a permanent co-host several months into the show, and you’ve also been joined by Sukie Rigby (that’s her name right?) and the mysterious Nordic presence of the Clandestine Cowboy. How is it to bring in these different guest hosts and how does it affect the dynamic of the show?
KAT: I started off doing the show alone, which was nice, but I felt it missed an element as I interpreted nature in one specific way. Grace is one of my best friends (as is Sukie) and when Grace joined for one show, it not only elevated the show massively but brought a whole new perspective on the topic. Grace is such a wonderfully weird person and I love the way her brain works so it really adds to the whole show. When Grace has been away, Sukie has stepped in and she brings yet another element to it - also researching and finding aspects of the topic I didnt think of, (including Lana del Rey). I really love sharing this with them both, and think it means that we don't get stuck in a rut musically or otherwise!
GRACE: When I first joined stop&listen I was stoked to be part a show that meant I could dive so deeply into a new topic every month. I loved Kat’s vision to bring to life each element through a such an personal mix of texts and sound - I thought that was the real beauty of it - that I could see these element through her tender eyes. Sukie brings a soft and reflective touch, with a deep love for organic forms, flowers, and all things Nick Cave. And the Clandestine Cowboy…well, his passion for film brings a whole new level of broody mystery to the show.
Together, we always bring a touch of drama, playfulness and attention to detail that makes the show special for me. We'll spend hours debating whether a certain track sounds more like a Cirrus or a Stratus cloud, or or being like “yes, that slaps!” to a finding a recording of water blop that most perfectly feels like it’s sloshed straight out of a rockpool into our ears.
Kat you also DJ and Grace you work as a visual artist. How do these different creative outputs interact with and influence the content of your work?
KAT: I think for me, I have always loved finding ways to put music together. Even before I started dj’ing, I could spend hours making a playlist with one “vibe” in mind. In a way, doing this show is the same but with much more focus and the ability to actually be really creative and personify certain parts of nature with a mood that Grace and I feel is correct. Our tumbleweed show was super playful and western and our elder tree show was ritualistic and a bit creepy. So our interpretation of that aspect of nature becomes the theme of the show similarly to how the set time & crowd at one of my dj sets will dictate what I play.
GRACE: In my own work, I explore concepts of world building by collecting, layering and re-imagining small found elements into their own little worlds- from photos of wounds to archives of 1950s health spas. I have played with audio in my works before, but never as the central medium and I love that stop&listen gives me the opportunity to experiment with this further. Both lean on each other and result in richer textures and depth.
What’s the most interesting thing you stopped and listened to recently, natural or otherwise?
KAT: The other evening it was about to rain, and you could feel the pressure and hear the silence before the sky burst. I always think that’s pretty special.
GRACE: I’m in London this week and I can’t help but hear how bustly and noisy the city is in contrast to the peaceful streets of Amsterdam.
Randy, you are the host of Vergaarbak (de): Receptacle [noun] - tell us about the show and how it came to be.
I had a show at Redlight Radio. So I was rather taken by surprise it stopped. Luckily I still had my bi-weekly radio broadcasts on Intergalactic FM formerly known as CBS. After some months there was this buzz going around. Some new station was about to start but you needed to fill in forms and stuff. Long story short. I stood out because I was rather short in my explanation / pitch. We had a online talk and the rest is history :)
Beyond this, what is the story behind the name? What is the relationship between containers/containing and strange sounds?
Where I grew up the word vergaarbak was used for people who could use anything / anyhow / anytime. I heard my father using it quite regularly in conversation. I love the sound of it. Later on I discovered that it is the little container at the edge of a roof where water is gathered from the gutters and then flows down through the drainpipe. So soundwise you could say that I, either consciously or unconsciously, alot or little, consume audio and then redistribute it.
In short we all gather all these sounds during our lifetime. In that sense we become containers for sound. Some of them become blueprints for situational soundtracks to certain emotions. By sharing sound you get to know other people more profoundly. And any strange sound can become normal or even soothing if you hear it more often. I'm drawn to the strange and peculiar cause that's where there's something to gain / learn for me and hopefully others. I'm not interested in music as a ready and easy to consume product. I love all audio which needs some effort to understand.
What draws you to the weird and obscure sounds that you play on your show? What kind of sonic experience interests you and makes you want to transmit it to the listener?
Everybody is always ranting about The Light, The Light. But have you ever experienced total silence? Everybody knows complete darkness but nobody knows complete silence. The place that I grew up had these huge very old beeches. In summer underneath the full canopy the sounds echoed, just like in a huge cathedral. In the river down below these very long rhine barges came by which made shis sort of low rumbling sound. And of course the famous Cunera church which you could hear every 15 minutes. Unconsciously you kept track of time because of this omnipresent sound of the carillon.
Ever since my first cassette I'm trying to make others listen to what draws me near. I sold recorded cassettes on high school, back then I was into Bad Brains, Corrosion Of Conformity, D.R.I., Cryptic Slaughter, the Earache label, but I also went to Staalplaat to get cassettes. Meanwhile reggae music was the foundation. My listening horizon widened, no internet back then so I would read the thanks to lists on vinyl sleeves and cassettes inlay cards. And going through the music magazines in the public library.
Besides your DJing, you also work at a school, with the kids of said school recently accidentally responsible for the cancellation of one of your shows through their mischief and playful antics causing the destruction of your laptop and USB stick (haha). Hi-jinks aside, what kind of energy or lessons do you get from working with young people?
In my daily job as a janitor I always walk around with a speaker I play anything and no matter what the music is the kids are drawn to it. Some start moving/ dancing others start asking questions but they never judge. Or categorise what they hear. Wonderful. We as grown ups could strive for these kids' ears.
What is the ultimate receptacle, and what is the best thing to put in it?
The best containers are we, the people. Best thing to put in is sounds… and love of course.